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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

INAUGURAL ADDRESS                        47

great house who carry food to the sick woman in the neighbouring
attic.

Today, all this would be as unreal and artificial as a fairy
tale. The poor may no longer learn from their more, fortunate
neighbours lessons in courtesy and good breeding,, they no longer
have the hope of help from them in cases of extreme need. We
have herded them together far from us, without the walls, leaving
them to learn of each other, in the abandon of desperation, the
-cruel lessons of brutality and vice. Any one in whom the social
conscience is awake must see that we have thus created infected
regions that threaten with deadly peril the city which, wishing to
make all beautiful and shining according to an aesthetic and aristo-
cratic ideal, has thrust without its walls whatever is ugly or diseased.

When I passed for the first time through these streets, it was
as if I found myself in a city upon which some great disaster had
fallen. It seemed to me that the shadow of some recent struggle
still oppressed the unhappy people who, with something very like
terror in their pale faces, passed me in these silent streets. The
very silence seemed to signify the life of a community interrupted,
broken. Not a carriage, not even the cheerful voice of the ever-
present street vendor, nor the sound of the hand-organ playing in
the hope of a few pennies, not even-those things, so characteristic
of poor quarters, enter here to enlighten this sad and.heavy silence.

Observing these streets with their deep holes, the door-steps
broken and tumbling, we might suppose that this disaster had been
In the nature of a great inundation which had carried the very earth
away; but looking about us at the houses stripped of all decora-
tions, the walls broken and scarred, we are inclined to think that
it was perhaps an earthquake which has afflicted this Quarter.
Then, looking still more closely,.we see that in all this thickly
settled neighbourhood there is not a shop to be found. So poor
is the community that it has not been possible to establish even
one of those popular bazaars where necessary articles are sold at
so low a price; as to put them within the reach of any one. The
only shops of any sort are the low wine-shops which open their